We don’t just lose muscle when we grow old, our brains deteriorate too. To be more exact, the brain’s cognitive reserve diminishes through the years. The cognitive reserve is the brain’s ability to withstand neurological damage because of aging and other elements without showing visible signs of slowing or memory loss. Just as gym workouts add lean muscle to our body, researchers now believe that following a healthy brain lifestyle and performing frequent, targeted brain exercises can also increase the brain’s cognitive reserve.
On top of a well-balanced diet and regular exercise, there are ways to give your brain the right workout that it needs. Although brain training software are available everywhere these days, it has yet to prove any significant neurological benefits for older adults. Experts are recommending to stick to brain training that involves real-world activities. Your morning newspaper is a good place to start. Simple games like Sudoku and word puzzle games as well as comic strips where you find the difference between two pictures. In addition to these games, Susan Greenfield recommends the following exercises to sharpen your mental skills:
- Test your memory. Make a list such as grocery items or things to do for the day and memorize it. An hour or more later, see how many items you can recall. Make items on the list as challenging as possible to be able to achieve the greatest mental stimulation.
- Play some music. Learn to play musical instruments or join choirs. Research shows that learning something new and complicated over a long period of time is very advantageous for the aging mind.
- Do math mentally. Figure out math problems without the aid of a calculator, pencil and paper. You can make this more difficult and athletic by walking at the same time.
- Take a cooking class. Learn how to cook a new type of cuisine. Cooking uses our senses like smell, touch, site and smell which involves stimulating different parts of the brain.
- Learn a foreign language. The listening and hearing involved stimulates the brain. What is more is that studies have shown that having a rich vocabulary has been linked to a lessened risk for cognitive decline.
- Create word pictures. Visualize the spelling of a word in your mind then try and think of other words that begin or end with the same two letters.
- Draw maps from memory. If you are visiting a new place, try to draw a map of the area you are in. You can repeat this exercise every time you visit a new place.
Soon people will realize that they can take steps to keep their brains more healthier. Just as they know that they can prevent heart diseases by taking certain actions. In the coming years, Susan Greenfield predicts that people will be more aware of their brain wellness as with their heart’s health now that there is proof that living a healthy brain lifestyle works.